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What's the Hurry?
Netanyahu will argue that whether the outcome is two states or something less, this is not the moment to try to conclude the peace process. The Palestinians are hopelessly divided, with the moderate Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas lacking the political authority to deliver on any peace promises. Indeed, the PA President's term of office expired in January, and polls show he'd lose to Hamas in an election held now. Instead of final-status negotiations, Netanyahu will advocate building the Palestinians' administrative and security capacity, and promoting economic development, in enclaves currently under Abbas' control. Without this infrastructure of stability and the neutralizing of Hamas he'll argue, no progress is possible. (See pictures of Hamas-Fatah conflict.)
Obama will make clear that whatever stability has been created thus far in the West Bank is premised on the achievement of Palestinian statehood, and will collapse without rapid movement along that path. Politically, President Abbas' Fatah movement suffers from the fact that its moderation and almost two decades of negotiation has seen only an expansion of Israel's occupation of the West Bank. Fatah cannot remain committed to a peace process without end if it is to reverse its declining political fortunes among its own people. The same may be true for the U.S.-trained security forces that have helped subdue the West Bank. Hamas has proven to be an intractable reality of Palestinian political life, and Obama may argue that a workable peace process would require its consent. Most importantly, he'll note that time is running out for Abbas and the Arab regimes that have cooperated with Israel and have come away empty-handed in the eyes of their own people.
Next: The Settlements